58 dead still missing and presumed dead in London blaze announces UK police
Fifty-eight people who were in Grenfell Tower are still missing and are presumed to be dead, London police announced Saturday, raising the death toll in the horrific inferno that turned the public housing block into a charred hulk.
Public anger is mounting as residents and neighbors demand answers for how the blaze early Wednesday spread so quickly and trapped so many of the tower’s 600-odd residents. British media have reported that contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling on the 24-story tower in a renovation that was completed just last year.
Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the number of 58, which was based on reports from the public, may rise and includes the 30 deaths that have already been confirmed. He says it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead at the charred building.
“Sadly, at this time there are 58 people who we have been told were in the Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing, and therefore sadly, I have to assume that they are dead,” he said.
Cundy said there may have been other people in the tower that police are not aware of, which would add to the final death toll. He asked anyone who was in the tower and survived to contact police immediately.
Police say the harrowing search for remains had been paused Friday because of safety concerns at the blacked tower but has resumed. Cundy said emergency workers have now reached the top of the tower.
Cundy said police will investigate the tower’s refurbishment project, which experts believe may have left the building more vulnerable to a catastrophic blaze.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing criticism for the government’s handling of the disaster, met Saturday with a small group of fire survivors invited to her official residence at 10 Downing Street.
The meeting is unlikely to quell complaints that May has been slow to reach out to victims, despite her announcement of a $6.4 million emergency fund to help the displaced families.